Last Saturday during our hike up Adam’s Canyon I learned a lot of good things about my gear. I also learned my trail shoes were a fail. 😦 There is absolutely NO way I can hike my 140K pilgrimage in Spain in those shoes. There is absolutely no way I can hike anywhere in those shoes! Ouch!
The idea of replacing my shoes so close to leaving is nerve wracking.
But, it had to be done.
So, Tuesday night Mr. Mo and I were back at our new favorite store REI for much longer than expected [multiple hours] trying to choose the perfect shoes for my terribly imperfect toes. At one point I had four different sales people helping me – all at the same time – trying to solve the problem of my feet!
🙂 Bless them.
In my ongoing “discovery” process of gear testing & packing testing, here is yet another test [gone horribly wrong]. My “trail videography” attempt. It’s ok – you have permission to laugh at my expense. This ridiculously raw and dizzying footage reveals that I should not be allowed to talk & walk at the same time – especially while operating a cell phone camera.
To save you the pain of watching – here is a photo of my new shoes (which I could never figure out how to show you properly)!
They are the Altra brand, and the style is Timp (as in Mount Timpanogos, one of my favorite mountains in the world). They’re light weight trail running shoes, not waterproof hikers, with a bunch of science behind their strange looking design. Basically, they let your toes spread all the way out – no squeezing them in. And a “zero drop” means the heel isn’t raised any higher than the toes which is supposed to promote a more natural use of the foot. All I know is that the shoes felt wonderful on my feet in the store, and so far they still feel good. I bought them roomy to allow for swelling during our 7-9 hours of walking each day. There’s no way of knowing how they will really perform for me – so we will get to find out together. I do feel heartened after hearing how these shoes saved this guys thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
The Camino chat board has vast discussions regarding “best footwear for the Camino.” There are very strong opinions regarding hiking boots vs. trail runners, and between waterproof vs. non-waterproof. There are good arguments for and against all. To me, the danger of a waterproof shoe is that if water gets inside, then it cannot get back OUT. That makes sense. And thus, I risk walking in very wet slushy shoes that can never properly dry – or, sweaty feet inside that can never properly vent. This will cause many foot problems – including the dreaded blisters. In theory, a breathable shoe will become more wet during walking through a storm or puddles (also a blister danger), but then the shoes can dry out faster during the day or overnight. There are always people who can share how they’ve never had a problem wearing a waterproof shoe, or a hiking boot, or a light weight, or even sandals, etc. So, it just goes to show that every foot is completely different and there are as many shoes to take you to Santiago as there are “Ways” to get there!
Socks are probably as much or more important than the actual shoes. And yes, I have spent a ridiculous amount of time reading sock reviews. So far, the Darn Tough merino wool socks combined with some silk liners have been treating us well.
Each person must find the right shoe [and sock] that works best for them on this journey. And receiving some of that divine intervention the Israelites received couldn’t hurt.
Yea, forty years did thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not.
– Nehemiah 9:21
My new Altra Timps are certainly odd little ducklings – and they are men’s shoes, too [go figure] – but they felt best on my particularly odd not-so-little feet. I’ve learned it’s certainly worth exploring all of your options. If nothing else, after 2 hours of trying on nearly every shoe REI offers I may not know 100% yet what’s best for my foot, but at least I know 100% which brands and styles do NOT work for my feet! Process of elimination! Now, let’s just hope these shoes can carry my feet happily-ever-after all the way from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela next month [with an extra prayer to St. James there will be no blisters].
¡Buen Camino! – Holly